TB still remains a huge challenge in india

ST CORRESPONDENT
Sunday, 24 March 2019

Despite govt efforts to curb spread of disease, world’s 27 pc TB patients are from the country

Pune: India is home to 27 per cent of tuberculosis (TB) patients in the world, against the backdrop of the fact that the country has 17.7 per cent of the world’s total population. Monumental efforts have been made by the government since 1997 to eradicate this pandemic through large-scale tuberculosis (TB)  elimination campaigns, however, without desired success. 

Health experts said the approach of early diagnosis using sputum GeneXpert test, effective treatment based on national guidelines and mandatory reporting of TB cases can help various stakeholders to address the problem of TB.

Speaking about one of the major challenges, Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya, Medical Director, Portea Medical, said 40 per cent of the population in India has latent TB, who have been infected by bacteria from active TB patients.

“On average, 10 per cent of the untreated latent TB cases turns into the active form. This proportion is higher in people with a weaker immune system. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends treating only active TB patients in countries like India, where the burden is higher. However, the reduction or elimination of this disease may not be possible until those with latent TB are also targeted. On a global scale, India has the highest burden of TB as well as multi-drug-resistant TB patients. The country is also placed second in terms of cases with highest HIV-associated TB cases,” said Dr Maiya.

Dr Ramananda Nadig, Head of the Clinical Advisory Board, said one of the crucial determinants in the battle against tuberculosis is the importance of a tuberculosis (TB)  patient being fully cured after undergoing a full course of treatment since any residual bacteria may potentially evolve into a drug-resistant form of the disease.

“The drug-resistant or multiple drug-resistant forms of TB is extremely challenging to cure and mandates a very concerted effort to prevent the loss of life. In 2015, 93,000 patients received treatment for drug-resistant TB as a part of the Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP). Another crucial factor is the identification of the precise form of tuberculosis (TB) that a patient is suffering from as an incorrect diagnosis can potentially lead to life-threatening situations,” said Dr Nadig.

Commenting on the way forward, Padma Shri awardee Dr KK Aggarwal, President, Heart Care Foundation of India, said that despite several efforts to address and combat the disease, tuberculosis (TB)  continues to remain a public health emergency, especially in India.

“Early diagnosis and complete treatment are extremely important to prevent and control TB. There is a need to notify every case and remove the stigma associated with the condition through awareness,” said Dr Aggarwal.

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